The Quad’s editorial board has decided, by majority opinion, to endorse a candidate for the presidential election. To our knowledge, this is the first time, at least in recent history, The Quad has ever announced a political endorsement. As a student journalist and Features Editor of The Quad, I respectfully voice my disagreement with the decision to endorse. This should in no way be misinterpreted as my support for a certain candidate. It is not the candidate chosen that I am voicing my disagreement with, simply the act of endorsing. I don’t think it is the responsibility or place of a news service like The Quad to announce an endorsement of a specific candidate.
While many highly-reputable news organizations have released endorsements this year, and in years past, The Quad shouldn’t necessarily mirror them in this aspect. How can our readers believe us when we say we strive to produce objective, accurate reporting when the act of endorsing undermines our objectivity? Even though The Quad’s endorsement has been published in the Op-Ed section of the paper, it seems unrealistic to expect our readers to separate the opinions voiced in the endorsement from our content, considering it originates from our editorial board. The endorsement is potentially creating a greater disconnect with our audience in the age of misinformation and online learning, when the WCU community is already so separated.
Legally, The Quad has full right to endorse. Public funding of the paper does not affect our reporting on controversial topics. And this election has been the most controversial, highly-contested presidential election that we have probably ever experienced. Even though we are approached with a challenging point of history, that does not mean we should loosen our grasp on the convictions and values we set in place for our newspaper. Demanding times should push us to stand more firmly with our convictions, refusing to falter against the uncertainty of today.
Pennsylvania has consistently been a sought-after swing state that has received increased attention for its ability to potentially decide the fate of elections. In the 2016 election, Donald Trump actually visited West Chester University, knowing that our area is a melting pot of Republicans, Democrats and third party/independent supporters. West Chester University students come from all over the country and all over the state of Pennsylvania. The fact that West Chester students, The Quad’s readers, come from many different backgrounds and ideologies, is another factor that fuels my opinion for not endorsing. We risk alienating a population of readers by releasing such a blatant announcement of opinion by the majority of editorial board members.
Am I looking at this situation with too dichotomic of a lens? I don’t think so. I think we risk falling into gray matter if we begin to finalize our decisions on a case-by-case basis using staff
opinion rather than The Quad’s collective values for journalism, values that have been largely consistent since the paper’s creation.
It is not our place to think critically for readers about who the best candidate for the president is. It is each individual citizen’s right and responsibility to think critically for themselves. The Quad can contribute to this critical analysis by reporting on issues that are of relevance to our community; the truth can speak loudly enough, especially in this election. It is our responsibility at The Quad to connect readers with credible journalism, so they can make an informed decision for themselves. It is not our place to voice who our readers should support, no matter the current moment in history. We risk undermining our credibility and alienating our readers, and what is a newspaper, without truth or journalism, without readers?
Maria Marabito is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Literature and Diverse Cultures. MM883631@wcupa.edu